I’m getting paler and paler. I need to hit the beach ASAP. OK, let’s go to Bali!
We’re in Yogyakarta, 600 km away from Bali. What better idea than to embark in a 3 day-2 night trip through volcanoes, mountains, blue fire and sulfur mines before we actually get to Bali? Here we go again!
6 am, the alarm from hell goes off. Again. After being awakened by the Muslim call to prayer every day at 3.30 am for the past 5 days, I’m not sure if 6 am is a piece of cake or an extension of hell on earth. The desire to go on a killing spree over this leaves my body in about 3 minutes. There’s no time to waste. Brush my teeth… check. Make my hair look human-like… check. Breakfast… check. Carry my 14 kg backpack to the front of the hotel… check. Now I just have to wait for my ride. They arrive 20 minutes late. I can’t help thinking I could’ve slept 20 more minutes. Yes, I’m greedy when it comes to my sleep time.
And… we’re off. Bye Jogja, hello unknown. We pick up a few more people on the way over. Other than EVERYONE’S crazy driving in SEA, it’s a pretty standard trip, so far. UNTIL, the van stops in the middle of the way. I see our driver talking to some woman who’s selling something. Something that is in a little blue cage, something that is moving, something like… A MONKEY! Our driver stops in the middle of the road to buy a tiny monkey for 18 usd. He puts him in the front seat of the van and off we go. We all grill him with questions like “what are you going to do with the monkey?”, “pet?”, until I can’t hold it anymore and I ask him if he’s going to eat it. He says ‘no’. To this day, I still don’t know what became of that monkey. I hope he’s doing his monkey business somewhere, being very happy.
First stop, Probolinggo. A 2 hour wait for our next transport. Then off again. 12 hours after our departure from Jogja, we get to Cemoro Lawang, the village at the base of Mount Bromo. Gunung Bromo is an active volcano, 2329 mts above sea level. Its name derives from Javanese pronunciation of Brahma, the Hindu creator god.
We stay for the night in what can only be described as a “Twilight Zone hotel”. There are some locals sitting in the lobby when we arrive. I’m pretty sure they are zombies…
Anyway, no time to waste, we should get up at 3. Yes, AGAIN. So off to bed, hoping no creature of the night will get ahold of us.
By now, I hate my wrist watch, my cell phone and anything that reminds me it’s time to wake up. A tiny jeep picks us up and off we go up the winding road to Penanjakan to see the sunrise over Bromo and Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. The tiny jeep parks: time to trek. I don’t really like trekking… I just like the view at the top, but not the process of getting there. Luckily, this was a 10 minute trek. WIN!
We get there and it’s like Disneyland, packed with tourists. Locals rent jackets and gloves and hats: to Indonesian standards, it’s freezing cold up here. Me? I’m happy I’m not sweating for a change! I snuggle between strangers and secure a nice spot to see the sunrise and take some pictures. The landscape is surreal: fuming volcanoes, mountains, little villages tucked in valleys; with every passing minute, as it grows clearer you get to see more shapes and colors and depths. It’s pretty amazing. Of course, no ball of fire, aka sun, happens. Ok, time to get to the top of Bromo. I’ve never been to the moon, but I’m pretty sure it would look something like this:
We get to the base of Bromo, time to walk. Doesn’t look that bad! I can do this! As soon as the incline starts to happen, I start cursing the last cigarette I had and the beer and the fact that I don’t exercise more often. Out of breath… time to stop. It goes on like this for 30 minutes and eventually, I get to the top.
The view isn’t actually wowing me, but I feel pretty good about getting my bum up there. Mr. Bromo is fuming like crazy, security around the crater is almost non-existent; how many people fell over the years? I don’t plan to be one of them, but the urge to go to the other side of the rail is too strong.
While at the top, I take my time to see what’s happening around me: people that choose to go up on a horse, for example. I mean, if you can’t get your fat bum up the volcano you don’t deserve the view. I know I’m being harsh, that there might be some people with injuries or something but, what can I say? I feel bad for the horses.
And locals that go there, day after day, to try and make a living, you can see tiredness in their eyes. Perspective hits you, like a hammer to the head.
By now it’s 7 am. We get back to “Twilight Zone hotel” for breakfast and a 1 hour nap, and we’re on the move again.
Next stop: the bowels of hell.